Thursday, December 13, 2018

We Are Not Streambait Pop: Live Choral Music as an antidote to the monotony of streaming

I listen to a plethora of podcasts including "If Then" from Slate. If/Then This is a technology show, but often is more about culture and politics. It always relates things from the tech world to other events in the news and culture. There is segment called "don't close my tab" where they discuss a particularly interesting item or article from the web.

Today's episode featured a discussion on a post called "Streambait Pop." Basically, what it says is that the homogenization of streamed music on Spotify is a real thing. streambait-pop-pelly

From my perspective this is NOT news. Pop music from any source, weather it be radio, MTV (in the 90s), actual record stores like Virgin (gone!), or even that time when we were all sharing illegal downloads in zip files, always has a stench of homogenization.

That's kinda the point. It's the most popular to the most people. It is going to be the lowest common denominator in music . It's not going to challenge or necessarily inspire you. It is not the same as seeing the band live! I've got an antidote.
Support Choral Music in your community!!

Guess what? You still might hear your favorite pop song. You will definitely hear something you don't know or at least a performance of a song by someone you have never heard do it quite that way.

Tonight, LCA has a concert where we are doing just this. We are challenging the holiday concert goer. We are stretching the boundary of what a holiday concert can be. Not with flashy lights and pyro. (Even thought that's pretty cool, thanks Chip!) Not with simply singing the most popular Christmas and holiday songs. But by offering beautiful live music in a gorgeous space with two great choirs and a great organist. You won't find this concert on Spotify or Apple Music. You might find the songs. But you won't experience sharing the music with friends or family.
Come tonight! See and Hear! 

The Lincoln Choral Artists present
A Renaissance Christmas of Hope and Expectation
with Dulces Voces

Thursday, December 13, 2018
7:30 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
2110 Sheridan Blvd

Celebrate the hope of the season with a Renaissance Christmas concert featuring a program to uplift throughout the ages. Featuring special guest a cappella choir Dulces Voces and organist John Ross.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

E'en So Lord Jesus Quickly Come - A Legacy Out of Pain

In 1953, Paul Manz and his wife Ruth, were sitting bedside with their son. He was critically ill. The couple was convinced the child's life was ending and they prayed "Lord,  Jesus Quickly Come." Thankfully their son survived. But during the process Paul began composing what would be come to be his most famous composition. Basing the text on Revelation 22:5, Ruth created the lyrics. Paul set the text for acappella choir and history was made. It has become a enduring classic for many choirs from the St. Olaf Choir, The Concordia Choir, and many great educational institutions to Chanticleer, the Washington Master Chorale, and the Kansas City Chorale. Its has enjoyed international success in concerts throughout the world. And it is they way I start every Advent Season (Black Friday I start listening to Christmas Music).

Paul "was Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois; as well as Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the director of the newly established Paul Manz Institute of Church Music, and was Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago." - wikipedia,  

Aside from "E'en So," Manz was most famous for his celebrated hymn festivals. Instead of playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would generally lead a "festival" of hymns from the organ, in which he introduced each hymn with one of his famously creative organ improvisations based on the hymn tune in question. The congregation would then sing the hymn with his accompaniment. Sometimes he would play an improvisation between each sung stanza, as with his well-known variations on the tune, St. Anne, sung to the Isaac Watts text "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past" with which he would traditionally end each festival. Many volumes of these improvisations have been written out and published and are played by church organists throughout the world."  

- wikipedia, 

I am very excited to present this choral classic at our concert next Thursday. 

A Renaissance Christmas of Hope and Expectation
with Dulces Voces

Thursday, December 13, 2018
7:30 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
2110 Sheridan Blvd

Celebrate the hope of the season with a Renaissance Christmas concert featuring a program to uplift throughout the ages. Featuring special guest a cappella choir Dulces Voces and organist John Ross.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Getting Ready for 40!

With one concert under our belt, and a great concert it was, the LCA Board of Directors and myself are earnestly looking towards the future.

I am constantly balancing in my head the short term goals and tasks, season long ideas and concerts, and the longer term goals and aspirations for the Choir.

Next year LCA celebrates 40 seasons! (and we don't look a day over 29 😛)

It is very exciting! And though I am not a liberty to reveal much information I am excited to share a little of my own thoughts on what this means for the organization.

40 years is longer than the lifespan of about 1/3 of our singers. 40 years is just a little longer than the tenure of some of our longest serving singers. 40 years in the Lincoln Community has seen three conductors, a name change, and countless positive events and excellent concerts. (Actually our Historian, Kent Remmenga, would know how many concerts!)  We recently updated our website and there is some wonderful information about our history.

This is my fourth season with the ensemble. Each year I have seen and heard the choir grow and change. Each year I have grown and changed. I know that is something that will continue as we move ahead.

There are some fun and exciting things happening next season. I can't wait to tell you about them.

But also we are currently engaged in an incredible 39th season! Please make it a priority to see us in concert, support us as a member of the music and arts community in Lincoln and Nebraska, and reach out to us via social media. Your engagement and connection keeps us going. We can only offer great music and concert experiences through your support.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Organized Chaos: Concerts, planning, community

On Saturday we had a great concert! It was a day filled with rehearsal, making new friends and partners in music, and ORGANIZED CHAOS! With over 100 participants in the concert there is always a lot to make happen. With tons and tons of support from LCA leadership, singers, and partnering organization Sing Omaha, we had a successful day. There was beautiful music, a supportive audience, and a great time had be all (I hope!).

As we move forward into the holiday season and a concert on December 13 we again have some chaos as new music is handed out, old music collected, new seating arrangements, and new plans with a new venue and collaborations with old friends, Dulches Voces.

The life of a community choir (or any community organization I bet) has these ebbs and flows of chaos as a season or event is planned and executed. I am grateful for having so many supportive members of the choir and friends of the choir to help make these times of chaos as smooth as possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What' Coming Up On the Concert? October 27, 2018, Holy Trinity Church, Lincoln, 3pm

Alright, you may be wondering, why is PAT BENATAR in this post? The LCA Fall Concert is titled, "Love is a Battlefield." LCA is exploring the way gender has and does play a role in relationships, romantically, socially, personally, spiritually. Helping LCA in the journey are the Sing Omaha Boys' and Girls' Choirs. This idea sprang up out of our Season Theme,  Modus Emotus: Exploring Human Emotion.

Pat Benatar's "angsty" love/ heartbreak 80s Rock Anthem touches on a few topics; youth, rejection, vigilance. Besides these emotions and concepts around love, LCA and Sing Omaha explore other relationship ideas.

In Ysaye M. Barnwell's "Wanting Memories" LCA deals with ideas of being comforted and wanting lost love and having regrets in the harsh reality of life. The Sing Omaha Boys reflect on the joy of love, so much love that you must sing. The Girls consider the silliness of a crush and depth of sorrow when someone you care about dies. LCA Women with the girls, reflect on the power of loving yourself for who you are inside, the strength you carry everyday. And the concert ends with the showstopper, "When Love Takes Over, " sharing the joy and excitement of love.

The choirs will "battle" it out throughout the concert and in the end join together to celebrate. Please come and join these great choirs on October 27th, 3pm at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Lincoln, NE.

Please visit our Facebook event page for more info and purchase tickets online.

Facebook Event Page


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Reflections on Collaborative Artistic Endeavors, Grants, and What Drives the wider community to our concerts

First of all I need to say, I have no answers here on any of the topics I listed in this blog title. Also each of those topics could be a separate blog post. In fact, each could be its own entire blog topic.

In the past I have mused about working collaboratively with other organizations. No concert ever happens in a vacuum. We are always working with a venue and its personnel, we often have guest musicians on our concert like our upcoming concert with Sing Omaha. There are also other connections and things that need to be weaved into the construction of a concert, a season, and a culture of a choir.

In my role, I straddle multiple endeavors to prepare for a concert. I view my primary job as rehearsing and preparing the choir to to their very best performance. But with that comes promoting the concert so there is a great audience to support the work and music of the singers. Behind that is a board of leadership who helps shape the structure of the concerts and the season, and brings in money like grants. Receiving any kind of funding requires expertise beyond my abilities. But being able to contribute to that effort is necessary.

Figuring out what will excite a community to support any given concert is difficult. Culture show us that music needs to be ever changing and growing. The experience of the concert needs to incorporate more than just watching a choir sing.

But the biggest factor in this endeavor is the joy and support of the singers. If I do everything I can do in my position and they work hard, do a lot of self promoting and inviting, it seems we can usually pull off this unique artistic mode of expression.

Here are some links to previous musings on related topics form this blog.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My other job (guest blogging my own blog)

I am blessed to work as a full-time church musician at St. Thomas Lutheran in Omaha, NE. I also serve the Nebraska Choral Director's Association as Repertoire & Resources Chair for Music in Worship. As an R&R Chair I connect with other Church Choral and Worship Leaders throughout the state as often as I can, choose and present music at conferences that I hope is beneficial and useful to church musicians, and I also write a blog. Below is the blog I created for Short Notes, the monthly digital newsletter sent out by NCDA. I hope you enjoy it reading it.

Fill the house with singing and your hearts with praise! Psalm 147
I am finishing up some score selection for my choir today. I am constantly struck by how the Holy Spirit moves to help me find exactly what the Lord needs in worship for each week. I don’t say this without knowing that there will be work, and sweat, but hopefully no blood, involved in getting these pieces up and ready.
Church choirs go through so much repertoire. I recently counted (because I needed to make some selections). My choir will sing over 40 unique pieces of literature between September and May. Some of this is the weekly worship need, some for festivals, and some for special events and services. But I need to find what music will call to the moment. I am grateful for years of experience, colleagues and friends I can ask for ideas, and a great supportive congregation who loves music.
With these blessings I shouldn’t really pull my hair out (or more honestly, get a bunch of gray) over repertoire planning. But by the end of July every year my internal alarm starts ringing strong…
“Remember all those great ideas you had, months ago, about getting ahead, about selecting great music by July 1?!? It didn’t happen, AGAIN!”
In reality, the big pieces – the challenging music, that has been in my ears, on my brain, and in my heart for months. This year it includes Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with harp! But also the usual great arrangements by John Purifoy and Jean Berger, John Ferguson and John the Revelator (not actually arranged by John the Revelator! That’s a Caldwell and Ivory arrangement, I think.)
But no matter what, I am pushed to find great things not just ‘cause I need to challenge myself, though that’s a good reason. Not just ‘cause my choir is bored with our usual selection, really they’re not. Not just ‘cause the Pastor wants an “upbeat” anthem, a term I loathe (plus my Pastor doesn’t use that language). But because this is music for worship. Its place is to support the praise and thanksgiving of a loving and caring God, who, through us, works with those who are in need, those who hunger, those who are heavy laden down with burdens and hurt, and hopes, and fears.
We are coming before the creator of the universe to “Speak, O Lord” through us. We are to speak so that “truth prevail[s] over unbelief.” As you embark on the journey of repertoire selection, as you begin to engage with your singers, and your church lifts up its song in praise, take the time to choose the best, most meaningful pieces. It is what you are called to do in the church and in the world.
“Speak, O Lord” Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend, arranged by John Ferguson, MorningStar Music Publishers, 2005 and 2007.

Music in Worship – R & R Blog post – NCDA – September 2018
Jason M. Horner, M. Mus.; MSM, B.A. Mus.Ed.
Director of Music Ministries, St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE
Artistic Director, Lincoln Choral Artists, Lincoln, NE